David Lean's Madeleine was inspired by a true story that rocked the English legal system to its foundations in the mid-19th century. Told in flashback, the film explains why aristocratic young Scotswoman Madeleine Smith (Ann Todd, then the wife of director Lean) is on trial for murder. The audience is apprised of Madeleine's illicit romance with deceptively charming Frenchman Emile L'Angelier (Ivan Desny), her futile attempts to break off the relationship, her "proper" betrothal to Englishman William Minnoch (Norman Wooland), and the murder by poison of the now-inconvenient L'Angelier. The jury's verdict was as controversial in 1950 as it had been a century earlier. David Lean and scenarists Stanley Haynes and Nicholas Phipps refuse to take sides, permitting the viewers to draw their own conclusions about the notorious Madeleine.